Economy & Business

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(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Data this morning showed Japanese companies are finally starting to invest their substantial cash piles, which is helping spur economic growth. While it’s positive news, we’ll explain what risks investors should look out for. Then, the World Economic Forum in Davos might be a week away, but its new report on global risks out this morning has a warning about issues like protectionism amid recently rosy headlines of widespread growth.

What does Martin Luther have to do with Facebook? According to one historian, they both prove that networks have great power and can do a lot of harm. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Niall Ferguson, whose new book is called "The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook."

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This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that's made primarily from vegetable oil. They're doing it, though, not because it's cheaper or better, but because they're required to, by law.

The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it's the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it's a wasteful misuse of resources.

GE reckons with a large debt from an old business

Jan 16, 2018

General Electric CEO John Flannery said in an earnings call today that he was “deeply disappointed” in big liabilities found over on the company’s insurance side. GE actually sold off this business – insurance for long-term care – years ago. But turns out it’s still liable for billions of dollars’ worth of policies.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Denver wants to help the middle class move on up

Jan 16, 2018

Supply and demand have come to bear on the housing market, and it's putting some cities out of reach for much of the middle class. The city of Denver has a plan to deal with the problem: housings subsidies. The subsidies aim to help middle-class professionals, like nurses and teachers, afford higher end apartments in areas with skyrocketing rents. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Laura Kusisto of the Wall Street Journal about her article on the subsidy plan. 

The bridge to nowhere. The teapot museum. People loved to point out how congressional earmarks led to wasteful government spending. Then, in 2011, Congress dramatically restricted earmarks.

Now, Congress is considering bringing them back.

Earmarks are easy to mock. But on today's show, Jonathan Rauch of Brookings and The Atlantic argues that earmarks make democracy work better.

01/16/2018: Is "Catan" the next blockbuster?

Jan 16, 2018

Sony Pictures hopes so. The studio is making a bid for the rights to the bestselling board game. We like Catan because it's all about economics, but is there enough there for the kind of mega-franchise Hollywood demands these days? Plus, we're talking markets and the Chinese government's new plan for limiting the population of Shanghai.

While the markets closed today with a slight loss, they opened at a high point. This morning, the Dow broke 26,000 points for the first time in its 120 year history — and that's after a year with practically no dips to speak of.

But that lack of volatility has some market watchers a little nervous. According to Michael Regan, senior editor of markets at Bloomberg, you never know how long a bull market is going to last. 

What do actress Mila Kunis, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck have in common? They're fans of the German board game Catan, which deals in trade and economics. Players represent tribes who have landed on the island of Catan. They jockey for the best position to collect resources, grow settlements and beat their opponents.

“It's a really cleverly designed game that you never really know until the very end who's going to win,” Adam Williams said as he stood with about two dozen other Catan fans at a gaming convention in Darmstadt, Germany.

How Roger Thrun Moved Into the World of Moving People

Jan 16, 2018
Reggie Baylor artwork

When Roger Thrun founded WHR Group, Inc., in 1994, it was an appraisal management firm. Nearly 25 years later, it has grown into a full-service global provider of employee relocation services for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

Thrun says the aim of the Pewaukee-based company is to bridge the gap between affordable relocation solutions and "high-touch" customer service. 

On this episode of "How Did You Do That?", Thrun shares some lessons he's learned along the way:

What's on the Democratic agenda in the upcoming year?

Jan 16, 2018

As we approach the Trump administration's one-year anniversary, we're looking more broadly at the economic agenda ahead.

With the Republicans in power, and the passage of their major $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, what are Democrats planning? Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the progressive leaning think tank the Roosevelt Institute, stopped by to give us some insight. Below is an edited transcript.

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